If summer events go on, will anyone attend?

Published: May. 7, 2020 at 4:04 PM EDT
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Mass gatherings and large events are normally held all around Vermont every weekend in the summer. But coronavirus has many of those concerts and events canceled. And if some do go on, will people attend? Our Ike Bendavid takes a closer look.

Normally, summers at the Burlington waterfront are filled with music. But as the coronavirus restricts large gatherings, the only songs you might hear will be the birds chirping.

So is summer canceled?

"I don't think so," said Samantha Graham of Burlington. "Not at this point."

"I wouldn't say canceled, still a possibility," said Jesse Tomko of Burlington.

"I don't think its canceled," said Chloe Foster of Burlington. "I just think it's going to be a bit different."

Vermonters are optimistic, but physical distancing and large gatherings don't mix well.

"We are in the business of bringing people together around the arts and when you can't mass gather, that puts us in a really challenging position," said Alex Crothers of Higher Ground.

Crothers says when the economy started shutting down because of the coronavirus, live music and performances were some of the first events to get postponed and will be among the last to make it back on the stage.

"We don't know when we are going to be able to reopen," Crothers said. "And when we do reopen, we have the real challenge of an incredibly long runway to get back to normal."

That challenge is shows and artists usually jump from city to city when on tour. If nearby cities can't host, then it won't be worth the artists' time.

There is also the question of whether people will even want to be in a large group.

"If tomorrow Phil Scott says, 'Hey, mass gathering restrictions are limited. You can have a show.' And I can magically find some band that is in the area that can play-- is anyone going to show up?" Crothers wondered.

At the Champlain Valley Expo, events bring people from all over the region. Staffers there are also wondering what's next and how they're going to operate.

"Every event is different," said Jeffrey Bartley of the Champlain Valley Expo. "A trade show-- how is that going to compare to a craft show or an outside car show?"

And like Higher Ground, they are also asking if they can open, will people even go to the events?

"If we do go forward, what is the critical mass that we need to make it worthwhile to do the event? We know gate will be down in a lot of these shows and they will probably be down for a while," Bartley said.

An uncertain future for venues and fans alike.

"I think I would maybe go," Foster said. "I would probably wear a mask and maybe stand more in the back."

"I don't think large gathering are happening anytime," said Hannah Harris of Burlington.

"I don't think so," Graham said. "Not at this point."

If larger groups of people are allowed, organizers feel there could be a chance to safely do a show outside.

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